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Brazil Agrees to Lower Police Retirement Age After Violent Protest


Striking police officers set fire to coffins during a protest by Police officers from several Brazilian states against pension reforms proposed by Brazil's president Michel Temer, in Brasilia, Brazil April 18, 2017.

The Brazilian government on Wednesday agreed to lower the minimum retirement age for police officers in its pension reform proposal, a day after members of their unions stormed Congress to protest the controversial bill.

In the reform draft, congressman Arthur Maia, a government ally in charge of making changes to the original proposal, reduced the minimum retirement age for police to 55 from 60.

After he revealed the details of his proposal on Tuesday, hundreds of police unions dressed in black shirts broke the windows of the main entrance of the legislature in Brasilia and clashed with congressional guards.

The violent clash, during which the guards used pepper spray and stun grenades to disperse the protesters, illustrated the unpopularity of the reform proposal that is central to President Michel Temer's austerity agenda.

The protest was the latest in what is expected to be months of street demonstrations by workers' unions even after Temer has repeatedly watered down the proposal, which aims to reduce some of the world's most generous pension benefits.

Maia is scheduled to read his full reform draft at a special lower house commission later on Wednesday. The initial vote of the proposal, which is a constitutional amendment, has been set for May 2 at the commission.

As it is a constitutional amendment, the measure has to be approved by a three-fifths majority in separate votes by both houses of Congress.

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